Sage Karam was the class of the field in the Interstate Batteries Monday Night Racing Pro Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, taking the checkered flag in his series debut.
Karam is not playoff eligible, however, as drivers need to start at least five regular season races to make the playoffs. Still, it’s quite the performance for Karam in his first ever MNR event.
Just the top nine cars finished on the lead lap.
It may be easier to say who didn’t have an issue in the Tufco Flooring 120 (1 hour 20 minutes), as trouble lurked around every corner for much of the field. It started off the bat with Labbe, who went off the course right after the green flag waved. Further back in the pack, Ryan Vargas got turned around and collected Michael Massie. Josh Bilicki also got into the wall and stayed there, possibly expecting a caution. In this race, just one caution was scheduled for about the halfway mark. Bilicki eventually got towed back to the pits, while Heim retired from the race.
Labbe fell back to 10th place but began working his way back up through the field. Meanwhile, much of the rest of the field had problems staying on the race course, including favorites like Collin Fern, Cabre and Schildhouse. Turn 2 especially appeared to be calamity corner, with multiple cars going off there and into the barriers.
Just before the halfway point, cars started pitting before the break, including Caruth, Schildhouse and Cabot. Legacy Texas Motor Speedway winner Schildhouse had more trouble there, as he spun on pit exit and had to be towed all the way back around to his pit stall.
Some more drivers crashed before the scheduled caution. Matt Stallknecht went off course into the tires and came back into the racing line, right in the path of Justin Melillo. The latter ended up earning a top 20 for avoiding the rest of the mayhem.
The calamity didn’t stop when the caution came out, as Smithley, who was in line to be the lucky dog, spun around with about 44 minutes left. He couldn’t maintain pace under yellow, so Fern was awarded the lucky dog.
When the race got back underway, Karam himself got loose and lost the lead to Cabot. More cars got into the grass and barriers, including Nick Olsen entering a turn.
Just before another set of pit stops for the leaders, Caruth, who was running in fourth, went off track with about 23 minutes left.
Cabot, Karam and Rodgers all pitted with about 20 minutes remaining, allowing Caruth and Pardus to get in front. Caruth made his pit stop a few minutes later, just after Cabot went wide in a turn with 18 minutes to go.
Even the leader was not immune to incurring issues, as Pardus got loose a couple of times, going into the tire barriers after saving it the first time. As a result, Karam found himself back in front, well ahead of Rodgers and Cabot.
In the closing minutes, a few more frontrunners like Wilson, Caruth and Rodgers went off track. However, they remained in the top 10, as most of the field was a lap down at that point.
No one had anything for Karam coming to the checkered flag, though.
— Monday Night Racing (@MonNightRacing) December 13, 2022
About the author
Joy joined Frontstretch in 2019 as a NASCAR DraftKings writer, expanding to news and iRacing coverage in 2020. She's currently an assistant editor and involved with photos, social media and news editing. A California native, Joy was raised as a motorsports fan and started watching NASCAR extensively in 2001. She earned her B.A. degree in Liberal Studies at California State University Bakersfield in 2010.
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